Natural for a Man

I was hurrying by the college green
where sunlit men in sleeveless shirts and jeans
were flicking a Frisbee and catching it
with hands grown up and sure in baseball mitts,
when a deep voice called out to one, "Yo, Drew!
New haircut! Nice! You look so beautiful."
Gold-curls who stood the nearest to me wheeled
round on his hips, shaded his eyes, revealed
white teeth in smiling to the ardent fan,
as if it were most natural for a man
to be appreciated by a cock,
without fear of being made a laughingstock.
The sun-flecked moment, flicked for someone's hand,
curved into me, winded and then wing-spanned.
I flew down to the city (on a train)
and, in a quiet park, landed the plane
of my hot hand in yours. You kept it there.
Then, after leaving the fenced grassy square,
you shook your hand free as if stung by scorn
as we walked down into Hoyt-Schermerhorn.
You looked around, I followed your unease—
three young black men in baseball caps and tees;
a Chinese mum; a white girl with her guy.
You stood apart before I could ask you why.
The walls grew white and shrill. The train pulled in.
The doors warned Watch your step before opening.
I watched and did not touch you in the train
but chafed and chafed against my skin's restraint.
In your apartment, you drew down the blinds,
switched off the moon and other lights. My mind
pounded a tumble as my fingers fumbled.
My larynx was a lark but my mouth mumbled,
you look so beautiful. "What did you say?"
Nothing. Nothing but well-rehearsed clichés
replayed, you'll burn in hell for being a fag;
you shame your parents; you're a girl in drag.

The moment pulled up, full of waiting, pulled
out from your body's platform into the dulled
mouth of the tunnel all things rushed toward.
Even the shiny disc, the gold award
of a gold afternoon unearned, unstopped,
could be, despite all green intentions, dropped.

by Jee Leong Koh

Jee Leong Koh's poems have appeared in Singaporean anthologies, and American and British journals such as Crab Orchard Review, The Ledge , Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide, Shit Creek Review, and Mimesis. His chapbook, Payday Loans, is a sequence of thirty sonnets about work and love in the wider contexts of papal succession, war and the Asian tsunami. It is available on his blog. His poem "Brother" was selected by Natasha Trethewey for the Best New Poets 2007 anthology, published by the University of Virginia Press."

"Blood Orange" by Fee Robson Copyright 2006

A Beginner's Guide to Tasting Psychotropics

Lithium is salty on the tongue.
Zoloft's bitter. Tricyclics taste like soap.
You'll notice, though, when you first start each one
the same, sweet aftertaste. That taste is hope.

by Jenn Koiter

Jenn Koiter lives in Wyoming, where she recently leapt out of the frying pan of academia into the fire of nonprofit work. Her poetry has appeared most recently in Relief, Ruminate, Fickle Muses, and The Eleventh Muse, and she is a winner of the 2006 Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Prize.

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